Isn’t Paper and Ribbon just that?

We pride ourselves in carrying an expanding inventory of papers and ribbons. But all papers are not alike and just adding more is not our goal- but expanding our offers with distinction is.
Gift Wrapping Ribbon at Lisa's Gift Wrappers in Metro Detroit


Here is a little paper and ribbon buying primer.


Ribbon is always a challenge, because it is the most expensive part of any unique, personalized wrapping solution. Ribbon can be purely craft quality- that can mean a polyester organdy that is knife cut (the manufacturer weaves a huge width and then it gets cut into widths with “knives” that slice it into standard widths, say 7/8″ or 1 ½”, and either leaves the edge open, “melts” the edge or eventually sews a wire edge to it) or an actual woven to width edge (that means special looms that weave the ribbon to specific widths, intended for trims on curtains, clothing or other uses).


There is a big difference in the wholesale and ultimately retail cost. And, things like where it is manufactured, where craft ribbons are mostly from China, versus woven ribbons are mostly from European entities or Japan, has a lot to do with price and color and variety.


Price is a challenge. Compare what you want to spend on a child’s gift (where most likely the “ribbon” will be thrown away) versus your BFF girlfriend’s gift (who may treasure and save it). This price swing can go from 15 cents to several dollars per yard.


The same can be said on wrapping paper costs. The most expensive is often the single sheet papers- especially if you have a large box where 2 sheets may have to be used to cover it properly. But your design choices are exceptional for their colors and designs and the weight of the paper is heavenly to work with.


Roll paper (that means rolls that are continuous in increments of 4-5 feet or at the holiday time 8-12 feet) give you better options when wrapping a large gift or maybe multiple gifts.


And the best paper price is when I can buy in a bulk situation- a ½ ream which is about 400 feet and a whole ream which is about 800 feet.


Let me tell you my newbie story on bulk paper- When I was first in the business, I had limited resources for inventory. And, back when I started, a home based business was suspect- either it was some “housewife” that had set up her business so she could buy at wholesale for herself or you were in competition with a “real” business that actually had a retail location. So, I was lucky to find a gift wrapping manufacturer that was not concerned about either of these issues. And, I was so grateful, that I stayed with that supplier for a very long time.


But I got talked into buying a kid birthday paper with balloons on it in a full ream of 800 feet. And not having any knowledge of how long that would last, I figured it was a really good deal.


Well, it was a cute paper- but people don’t like to use the same paper, over and over again. (That’s why you buy a roll that has 4-5 feet on it!). So I had this paper for a VERY LONG TIME and was so sick of it myself that we used it for every wrapping class we taught (that’s 15 years of them) and even got to the point of using it as packing paper when we shipped items.


So when I commit to a ½ ream or whole ream, I know it’s got to be a color that I will use- frequently. So, if you were to guess what color or colors would we stock? Well, certainly, white, gold and silver. Then after those we would buy in 85-100 feet put-ups solid colors like navy or red or even a pattern that we know would work for corporate gift giving.


And we stick to short rolls (4-5 feet) or single sheet for our consumer level clients, who typically are looking for fashion forward colors or designs.


From an inventory standpoint and for my staff of Wrap Artists, it is a nightmare. They have to know quite a lot about paper, ribbon, manufacturing situations, color trends, suppliers- the whole gamut.


(Here’s an aside- I just love it when someone walks in and says they love to wrap and what a fun job this would be- assuming all they have to do is wrap gifts all day).


So when buying papers or supplies, you have to know what your clients or potential clients are going to love. I have to shift through the good and the bad, finding the prefect ones- ribbon and paper- that will give us the unique and personalized wrapping solutions they come to Lisa’s Gift Wrappers for.


So, now the fun starts for 2009. And I get to look at my existing vendors and then search out new and different solutions. This is one of the best parts for me, but time consuming- for instance we never buy paper unless we see it in a large sample size, as catalogs can make it look better or worse than it is.


And, then we have to see what ranges of ribbon will work with it- from the budget solution to the no budget solution. And then we have to fill in those gaps- so if there isn’t anything currently in our inventory of 800 ribbons, it might not make the short list for purchase, as it poses a color challenge.


If we find one ribbon, that’s great. But we next bring in our ribbon vendors to see what else is available. And if we can’t find at least 2 more solutions, it’s off the list for us. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad paper- it may have life as a craft paper, covering a book or being used as accents in collage or scrap booking or other paper activities.


Whew- if you’ve read to here I believe you are tremendously interested in this subject. I have to tell you that I give this philosophic training to my staff, company by company, manufacturing and other details, over the course of 6 months or so. Because there is a ton to know; this will make them more knowledgeable and thus give you great service, because they can work with you on the best solution for your wrapping dilemma.


And that’s our goal. To make you so satisfied that you come back to see us, with all of those important occasions to celebrate in life.


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